Office of Safety, Health & Environment

The Office of Safety, Health and Enviroment (OSHE)
- 10th Anniversary
Milestones and key achievements from 2002 - 2012

The Office of Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE) was established in August 2002 as the corporate office in charge of occupational safety and health matters, environmental compliance and emergency management in NUS. Over the past 10 years, OSHE has been providing a range of safety and health related services to the NUS community. This includes formulation of policies, program development, provision of advisory services, training, safety promotion, carrying out inspections and audits and incident management.

The journey towards the conceptualization and formation of OSHE started in 1999 with a delegation of Senior University staff performing a study visit of safety departments in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne. In 2001, senior management appointed a pro-tem committee chaired by Emeritus Professor Ang How Ghee from the Department of Chemistry, to oversee the establishment of an NUS Safety Office. In 2002, Dr N. Varaprasad, Deputy President of Administration took the bold move to establish OSHE and nominated Prof Samuel Tay from the Department of Anatomy as the interim head of OSHE. Dr. Peck Thian Guan joined OSHE in 2004 where he was appointed as OSHE Director and has contributed to the expansion and development of OSHE.

As the roles of OSHE expanded, three distinct divisions were created, namely: (i) the Emergency Management Division; (ii) Occupational Health Division and (iii) the Safety & Health Management Division comprising of the Engineering and Science group, Microbiological and Biomedical Group as well as the Infrastructure Group. The Emergency Management Division aims to equip NUS staff and students with the knowledge and tools so that they can efficiently and effectively plan and organize their activities and events safely, and manage crisis and emergency situations expediently when they happen. The NUS Occupational Health Program aims to protect and promote the health and well-being of its staff and students at work via medical surveillance requirements from the time they join the university; as they undertake different work activities and work in diverse workplaces within the university; till the time they leave the university. The Safety & Health Management Division facilitate the building of a positive safety, health and environmental culture and learning experience for all NUS staff and students through the adoption of Safety, Health and Environment best practices and systems.

Here is a quick summary of the journey of the development of the various OSHE programmes and schemes:

To encourage safety awareness and promote safe practices in the departments, OSHE launched the NUS Annual Safety & Health Performance Award (ASHPA) Scheme in 2003. OSHE launched the Safety & Health Improvement Programme (SHIP) as a motivational scheme to promote workplace safety and health through innovative projects while Safetymation was launched as a platform to support development of safety-related posters, videos and other media formats. These two programmes were subsequently merged into the 'Safety Team Award & Recognition' (STAR) in late 2012.

A key role for OSHE is to educate staff and students on good practices in safety, in particular for laboratories. As a result in year 2004, the Structured Safety Training System (SSTS) was launched where classroom-based safety courses was introduced. In year 2012, classroom learning is being transitioned to e-learning through the NUs Integrated Virtual Learning Environment (IVLE). During the years OSHE has expanded its portfolio of courses.

With the introduction of the Workplace Safety and Health Act (WSHA) in 2006, OSHE was tasked to develop a NUS Safety Management System (SMS) and to partner faculties and departments in establishing the SMS and subsequently auditing and certifying Principal Investigators and Laboratory Supervisors. Over 600 PIs were certified by end of year 2011.

Through the expertise and commitment of OSHE, numerous accolades have been awarded, namely, the Silver Award in 2006 and 2009from the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) for the successful Occupational Safety and Health Management System under the ASHPA Scheme; a merit award (second-placed ranking) from the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA), based in USA, in 2008, 2011 and 2012. CSHEMA also awarded NUS for 'Campus Leaders Who Care' to Prof Tan Chorh Chuan (NUS President) and Prof Barry Halliwell, Deputy President (Research and Technology). OSHE is also committed to provide quality service and was awarded the NUS Service Class Recognition in 2008 by the Office of Quality Management (OQM).

OSHE has also realized the importance of benchmarking safety practices and performances to other Universities and has initiated collaborations such as Sharing Safety Management Systems with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Nagoya University. In 2011, OSHE representatives visited the Simon Fraser University and Duke University to learn from their Safety Management Systems as well as hosting representatives from Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

In the last few years, OSHE has also spearheaded the business continuity framework and laboratory sustainability initiatives in NUS. OSHE was instrumental in organizing a number of local and international conferences to promote sharing of best practices on safety.. In the next decade OSHE looks forward to promote and elevate safety performance and culture in NUS.

For more information about NUS, please contact Dr Kingsley Liew at
Our 10th Anniversary Video Production utube